JJ confirms she won't be playing any warm-up tournaments (other than the HK Exhibition) before AO 09.
Totally reasonable and understandable. Two words I'm not accustomed to using around JJ.
God I love that video. So ridiculous.
It's official. The Serbian Sisters are bigger than Beyonce.
Well, at least in Serbia.
Beyonce was planning to do a concert in Belgrade in April but it's now been canceled because they might need Belgrade Arena for the second round of Fed Cup.
Now I totally have the image of Ana and JJ flanking Beyonce in that video. And JJ pushing Beyonce out of the way to take center stage.
According to Neil Harman, The Muzz might be ditching the iconic but super boring Fred Perry and aligning forces with K Swiss.
Andy Murray is poised to relinquish his association with the most recognised name in British tennis history. It is understood that the British No 1 intends to start wearing the clothes and shoes of the K-Swiss company next year, ending his deal with Fred Perry, the company that identified him as a future prospect when he became the US Open junior champion in 2004 and has supported him ever since.
Murray has stayed loyal to the Perry name but it is believed that the time has come for him to break away from a traditional company and join one that may offer more lucrative benefits and that, famously, once clothed Anna Kournikova.
The deal with K-Swiss is believed to be worth $3 million (about £2 million) and will be announced when Murray plays in an exhibition event over the new year period in Abu Dhabi with Rafael Nadal, the Wimbledon champion and world No 1, and Roger Federer, among others. From there, Murray is scheduled to play in a tour event in Doha before the Australian Open, which begins on January 19. Murray is among the hottest properties in the world game and it was assumed that the two leading companies, Nike and adidas, might bid for his services but it is clear that K-Swiss has recognised his rise in terms of both rankings and publicity as a means of improving its portfolio.
Nike and Adidas were never going to take him, seeing as how they already have the top three guys locked up. I'm surprised that Reebok didn't make more a run for him, seeing as how they don't have any marquee men's players. But I like K Swiss. They did a heck of a job revamping Bepa, here's hoping they'll do the same for Andy.
At least they're not afraid of color. And as we all know, neither is Andy.
Part 2 of Tignor's Spotlight on Steffi, this time focusing on the year of her Golden Slam, which is arguably the greatest season by any tennis player, man or woman.
Some of my favorite Tignor observations:
—Graf’s game: Was it more influential on men’s tennis than women’s? Is there anyone who followed in her serve-forehand footsteps on the WTA side? Her forehand was certainly one of a kind: Late take-back, late contact point, quick whip into the follow through—as I’ve said before, it was one shot that had the force of nature.
—Watching Graf and Becker as teens, I’d say they what they had in common the most was a sort of hell-bent all-court fearlessness that briefly broke down old divisions in the sport. Becker hurled his body all over the place and right through the barrier between baseliner and net-rusher. He was both at once. Graf broke down the idea of “changing the direction of the ball.” She ran around her forehand as much as any woman I can remember, and in doing that she developed the ability to hit it from anywhere, to anywhere, at any time.
—I do miss the twirly, painterly quality of Sabatini’s ground strokes, and that slow John Wayne walk she did between points. You can see her trying to slow Graf’s tempo. That’s a lost cause. Steffi still kept an extra ball in her hand when she served; she didn’t stop for a drink, or for anything, during the change of ends in the tiebreaker; and even on crucial points she refused to take an extra second before serving.
Anywho, here's some video of the happy couple leaving the match. Ana clearly wants to get the hail out of dodge.
Thanks to Kiki and babypanda, Forty Deuce's resident Ana stalkers ;)
But seriously, what's her deal? I can't figure out if I like her or kind of hate her. On one hand, she's a little jack rabbit who runs everything down and does a pretty good job of holding her own against players twice her size. On the other hand, she seems to know how cute she is and works that angle a bit too much in my opinion.
So yeah. I guess I kind of hate her a little bit. I can't put my finger on it but she's kind of annoying. This is 100% baseless but I can't help it.
Loyal Forty Deucer Carrie asked a somewhat rhetorical question yesterday in response to news that JJ was training while Ana was flitting about with her boy toy:
Yes, Carrie. Yes it is. Check out these pics of the Winter Adilibria Edge line (Ana's line) from Adidas:
If there is one odd quick about me that always seems to take people by surprise, it's my very serious love of (almost) all things German. Basically my parents met in Germany and went to university there, and have passed on all the German traditions on to my sister and I. I drive a German car, have a German knife set, speak German, worship at the altars of Juergen Klinsman and Michael Ballack, and just three days ago had a dinner of wienerschnizel, spaetzle, and reibekuchen all washed down by a cold Radler. Schmeckt Gut!
All this is to say, duh! I love Steffi and Boom Boom. Always have, always will.
Much to my joy, Steve Tignor is doing a fun series of pieces on them using YouTube clips of their playing days:
The trend didn’t end with Johnny Mac’s terrorization of the All England Club. The decade’s real legacy, as far as how the game is played, came four years later with the seismic shift toward power and explosive athleticism—in your face tennis was here, and it was here to stay. What now seems odd, at least to me, is that the earliest harbingers of this transformation were two teenagers, Steffi Graf and Boris Becker, who had grown up at the same time and in the same obscure place, the suburbs of Heidelberg, West Germany. What was in the water over there?
Two Germans at once; two Belgian women at once; three Serbs at once—is there any explanation for tennis’ seemingly random nationalistic surges? West Germany hadn’t had a No. 1 player on either tour during the Open era. Then, within about 24 months, they produced two players who would change the sport forever. Graf and Becker had even practiced together as kids. “I used to be the worst in the boys and she used to be the best in the girls,” Becker said of Graf, “and I all the time had to hit with her.” They taught each other something special.
Check out the rest of the piece, which has some cool links to their early playing days when they splashed on the scene. Awesomeness.
I bet he used a reusable canvas bag, too, cuz that's how Boyfriend rolls.
Boyfriend hands out his 2008 Awards, and there are no real shockers, although even though I understand the argument I still can't get behind Venus as POY. Here's BF's short summary of the year, which I think pretty much captures it:
In the end, though -- and it's ever thus -- order trumped chaos and the year was marked by excellence. Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer in the Greatest Tennis Match Ever Played, and finally wrested away the top ranking. Forever answering those pesky questions about his mettle, Federer recovered to win the U.S. Open, salvaging his season and putting his assault on Mt. Sampras back on schedule for 2009. The Williams sisters continued to triumph in their unconventional way, each winning another Major. Tiny Serbia lay claim to three of the world's top ten players.
Joel is not that impressed with Rafa. But shouldn't he take into consideration the context in which Rafa was able to do what he did? He chased down the GOAT. That's gotta be worth something, no?
Food for thought.
Seeing all these pictures makes me wonder: Is he the hardest working man in tennis? I just can't imagine the other guys putting their bodies through some of these drills. That's him doing chin-ups with a 10kg weight attached to his waist, running 10 sets of 400m, and 12 sets of 200m. Interval training is puketastic.
Reading the ATP summary makes me actually glad I follow the WTA more. I have no idea what all those proposals mean and why the tour finds them necessary. Putting shit on the nets??? I saw them experiment with this at Indian Wells during a practice session with Fed and Rafa and it was the most distractingly ugly thing ever.
Interesting proposal for an alternative to on court coaching:
Having been around tennis for many years, it strikes me that there is a better option if the WTA Tour is so insistent about getting this additional access to the players. Instead of the whole rigaramole of coaches going out onto the court, why not simply slip a headset on the player winning the set and have her talk directly to the television commentators doing the match. This may seem intrusive to some - but who would have believed 10 years ago that players would now be doing interviews on their way out to play the final of Wimbledon, as well as before many other important matches during the year?
That is now commonplace and players have become increasingly aware of the need to give more of themselves for the greater good of the sport. There is a two-minute break at the end of a set – why not just have the winner (the loser is usually of no mind to talk) just answer a couple of basic questions about how they feel, the match, playing conditions, etc. etc. It seems to me that an end-of-set interview might even be easier for a player than having to do one right before going on court when she is probably feeling her most nervous and incommunicative, trying to get into the right head space for the match.
The quick on-court interview would do away with the charade of a coach traipsing out onto the court, avoid the invasion of the privileged conversations between coach and player, maintain the tradition of players having to coach themselves on the court and, most of the time, assure that the language used for the conversation (generally English) would be understood by television viewers.
Meh. I'd rather watch an inconsolable Bepa crying under a towel or Dina/Zeljko googly eyes than a trite non-substantive interview.
I may have spoke too soon about Sania's preparation for 2009. Sounds like that spiral thing is working:
Bonnie Ford reviews the Boys of 2008. It's generally fine but how do you do a review of 2008 without including something on Hot Crazy Elf Train? That's like writing up the ladies and not mentioning Dinara. Loved the Marat quotes though.
Stan Wawrinka as Most Improved? Uh, no.
Also (and I'm not one to defend Fed) Fed did not run over to the Djoko box and snap "Shut up." He was standing on that side of the court between serves when he said it.
Facts are important.
While her smiling compatriot is sucking face with her boyfriend on the tennis courts of Mallorca, JJ's putting in the solitary hard time in Mexico, training for the upcoming season.
You know how we say the tennis season is a marathon? Yeah, JJ seems to be taking that literally:
But don't worry. It hasn't been all work and no play for our glittery #1. She took some vacation time off to spend with her hunky beau too:
Looks like Bernard Tomic, Australia's equivalent of Andy Murray, has some crazy parent issues:
The 16-year-old, considered the best player of his age in the world, forfeited a second-round match in a senior pro-circuit tournament on Thursday after his father John complained the umpire was refusing to call foot-faults against his opponent Marinko Matosevic.
"There were 15 umpires sitting there just eating and drinking, so they should have put more umpires on the court, but they didn't," Tomic said.
"How can Bernard play when he does not have protection from the umpires? Bernard is the best prospect in the world and for Australia. He could play Davis Cup. But they (the umpires) don't want to do honest things by him on the court."
The bizarre default means Tomic, who has caused Tennis Australia officials disciplinary concerns at least twice in the past two years, faces potential sanctions from the International Tennis Federation, which is investigating the incident.
Marat has confirmed he will play Hopman Cup with Dina. Meanwhile, Serena says she won't play due to a hamstring injury she suffered at the YEC, which still hasn't healed. Uh...I thought she pulled a stomach muscle at the YEC. But whatever.
ReRe will be replaced by Meghan Shaughnessy. Is she still with that insane coach who almost drove ALG out of the game? I didn't even know she was still playing.
This is nutty:
Sports agent Perry Rogers filed the lawsuit Friday in Clark County District Court. The suit claims Graf, also a former tennis star, owes $50,000 to Rogers and his Alliance Sports Management Company for services outlined in a 2002 agreement.
Graf declined to comment through a spokesman. Agassi released a statement saying he was "saddened and disappointed" by the lawsuit.
Rogers and Agassi, who met as children in Las Vegas, announced the end of their business relationship in October. Both described the parting as friendly.
Rogers long had served as Agassi's manager, agent and lawyer, as well as president of Las Vegas-based Agassi Enterprises.
The lawsuit claims Rogers also represented Graf. It says Graf agreed to pay Rogers' company 15 percent of all business ventures once an investment account had reached $20 million. Graf stopped paying Rogers' after the October split with Agassi, the suit claims.
Rogers and his attorney, Donald Campbell, did not immediately return phone calls for comment.
"I remain hopeful that we will be able to resolve our business issues with minimal damage to our families and mutual friends," Agassi said in the statement.
Perry Rogers always seemed like a bit of a schmuck to me. Something about him just didn't seems shady. You'll recall earlier this year he was voted off the ATP Board of Directors by the Players' Council, then he split from managing Andre. Now the guy is suing Steffi? For $50,000?
This dude is an idiot.
Still, Tennis Wub is adorable.
(Pics from WTA Women's Tennis Blog)
No doubt that there's going to be some weird stuff in 450 pages of WTA Rules. Here were some that made me laugh out loud:
Footage from the Russian Tennis Awards is finally up on YouTube. And boy, it does not disappoint.
Dina, awkwardly receiving her award. In addition to working on her serve over the off-season, she also needs to practice walking and standing in heels. Yikes.
Dina's definitely channeling the Jersey Girl look, what with the amazing gum chomping. Lena of course is elegant as always.
The womb from which Crazy Hot Heads were born received the Coach of the Year award. And the video accompanying her award has lots of Baby Marat and Dina footage. And Dina looks so adorably proud of Moms.
FeLo and Fernando on some Tonight Show clone on Monday night. Unintelligible (to me) adorableness ensues!
Loved the awesome teamwork during air hockey. They immediately had a strategy and everything.
The 2009 WTA Rulebook has been released and it thankfully answers a lot of my Roadmap questions, even if I had to sludge through 450 pages to find them.
But first, a small rant. WTF with the renaming of the tournament classifications? Tier I, Tier II, Tier III, and Tier IV was fine. But now everything's been changed to Premier Mandatory (Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Beijing) Premier 5 (Dubai, Rome, Cincy, Toronto, Tokyo), Premier $700 (remaining Premier tourneys), and International tournaments.
A. Noy. Ing.
Anyway, here are some of the interesting tidbits:
JJ, Serena, Venus, and Masha are confirmed for the Bank of the West Classic held at Stanford University from July 27 to August 2nd.
Wait. A cat fight in my own backyard? I'm so there.
For anyone else in the Yay Area planning to go, they're offering special holiday pricing on early round tickets.
The entry list for the Medibank International Sydney tourney is out (unfortunately, sans video) and there is one notable name missing: JJ.
The Glitter Queen had originally assured the tournament that she would be playing, but for whatever reason she hasn't committed to the tournament:
Organisers issued a statement on Wednesday saying Jankovic had revealed she was still finalising her playing schedule for the start of 2009 and she would not appear on the official acceptance list to be announced this week.
Reports in October had said she would headline the strong women's field for the Sydney tournament which starts on January 11 in the lead-up to the Australian Open.
Organisers said Jankovic could still seek a wildcard entry.
"We had some good signs from Jelena early on and she indicated to me in New York that she was looking forward to returning to Sydney," said tournament director Craig Watson.
"Players often end up re-arranging their schedules a number of times and in this instance, Jelena has not finalised her plans for 2009 yet.
"If Jelena does decide that she would like to play in Sydney, then we would certainly consider her for a wildcard."
Considering she's not confirmed for any other tournaments in Australia leading up to the AO and the fact that we know she'll play any and all tournaments on the schedule, this seems really weird. Did she miss the entry deadline? Is she trying to avoid the extremely strong field in Sydney? Would she prefer a wildcard to the weak field in Brisbane with all her fellow Serbs? It's all really weird to me.
Official Medibank International Sydney line-up (men’s)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga FRA (no.6)
Gilles Simon FRA (no.7)
David Nalbandian ARG (no.11)
Igor Andreev RUS (no.19)
Tomas Berdych CZE (no.20)
Tommy Robredo ESP (no.21)
Dmitry Tursunov RUS (no.22)
Mardy Fish USA (no.24)
Richard Gasquet FRA (no.25)
Radek Stepanek CZE (no.27)
Feliciano Lopez ESP (no.30)
Paul-Henri Mathieu FRA (no.31)
Rainer Schuettler GER (no.33)
Jurgen Melzer AUT (no.34)
Andreas Seppi ITA (no.35)
Mario Ancic CRO (no.36)
Jarkko Nieminen FIN (no.37)
Michael Llodra FRA (no.40)
Simone Bolelli ITA (no.41)
Lleyton Hewitt AUS (no.67) Wildcard
Official Medibank International Sydney line-up (women’s)
Serena Williams USA (no.2)
Dinara Safina RUS (no.3)
Elena Dementieva RUS (no.4)
Vera Zvonareva RUS (no.7)
Svetlana Kuznetsova RUS (no.8)
Agnieszka Radwanska POL (no.10)
Nadia Petrova RUS (no.11)
Caroline Wozniacki DEN (no.12)
Victoria Azarenka BLR (no.15)
Alize Cornet FRA (no.16)
Marion Bartoli FRA (no.17)
Dominika Cibulkova SVK (no.19)
Katarina Srebotnik SLO (no. 20)
Daniela Hantuchova SVK (no.21)
Anabel Medina Garrigues ESP(no.22)
Na Li CHN (no.23)
Amelie Mauresmo FRA (no.24)
Sybille Bammer AUT (no.26)
Kaia Kanepi EST (no.27)
Maria Kirilenko RUS (no.29)
Ai Sugiyama JPN (no.31)
Alisa Kleynanova RUS (no.32)
Sorana Cirstea ROU (no.36)
Shuai Peng CHN (no.40)
Fernando has torn himself from the side of Baby E and is now in Port Aventura for an exhibition. He posed with what I can only assume is Woody Woodpecker, which is kind of meta considering that was the nickname of some Ana's forum posters gave him.
But he was asked about Baby E. As is well documented here, I don't speak Spanish so I have no idea what he's saying. But according to some posters in her forum, this is a rough translation of the article accompanying the video clip:
So get to work, Spanish speakers (Kiki!). Anything else worth mentioning from the video?
UPDATED: The Never Failing Kiki answers the Bat Phone:
This is the same press conference that I saw yesterday in Corazon de Otoño. I'll start out with this one. He said that Ana was one of the best, if not THE best, person he has ever met. That she always had a smile on her face, and that was something that made him feel happier, feel like everything is much better. In this vídeo he also said that if he was not a tennis player, he might not have had the chance to ever meet her. That they went out to dinner with the respective teams, and got along very well.
This new vídeo is from a different part of the press conference (God, spanish reporters can get tiresome with so many private questions!). They don't really show the question, but I believe they ask him to confirm their relationship. He starts out by saying that they only know each other for 3 months, that they still didn't have time to see how everything will go. That people are going too fast with this.. Then he says that when the press published things that Ana had supposedly said, that they were together and that he made her very happy, he imediately asked her about it.. and that she said no. (laughs from everyone at this moment). He continues by saying that she told him she had not said anything at all. There were lots of people asking his agent if they were together, because of them being together in the China Open and Doha. I don't understand what he says at this point (not the spanish, but what he means).. but it's something along the lines that her manager informed people that they had met at the US Open and that they got along very well, and no more info. And then all the press alredy started to say they were together. That they didn't even have time to say they were together, that the press was already confirming it before they could even say anything. That they were asking him something that they still didn't have time to be completely sure of, that both of them like to take things slowly, get to know each other very well first, and as he had said previously, they still didn't have enough time to see how everything will go.
Then the reporters ask him if Rafa introduced them (everything comes down to Rafa!). He laughs and denies it. He then says that they got to know each other because they have the same clothing sponsor and that Ana's coach also coaches him sometimes. And at the US Open, they had a dinner with all the Adidas group. He mentions that he knew her before, but only by saying hi and goodbye. At this dinner they got to know each other better, and from then on they started to talk more and more often.
He is asked about what is the topic of conversation between them, and he says they do talk about tennis, about their careers, that it makes it easier that they are tennis players. But they also talk about life, about everything.. that they are not all day tennis tennis tennis. He says that they have great relations and that they are both very very happy to have met each other.
The last part of the vídeo is about a rumour os a relationship between Feliciano López and a spanish TV host. He says that he thinks Feliciando is single and happy to be single. haha But they should ask him, since he doesn't like to talk about his private life, imagine talking about others.
All together now: THANKS, KIKI!
All together now: THANKS, KIKI!
Matt Cronin previews 2009 for the ladies:
That said, I do love the shoes:
Fed posted his 2009 Schedule today, and most notably he is only playing two clay tournaments in advance of RG: Madrid and Rome.
Overall, I think it's a smart move. No need to tire himself out with additional tournaments during the most grueling part of the season. He wouldn't want to lose his legs before Wimbledon, that's for sure.
I really like the color choices and the one thing I really like about Adidas gear is that it's actually wearable. It LOOKS LIKE sportswear that's easy to wear and sweat in. So I give them props on that. I do have one complaint: WHERE'S GILLES?!?
Nice article on Gil Reyes, Andre Agassi's trainer and current trainer for the Adidas Player Development play (you know, the one that supplies Baby E with Sven).
Anyway, check this anecdote out:
Reyes relates that after Agassi left the room, Verdasco turned to him and said, "I need to tell you a story. Growing up in my hometown in Spain, I would go to the mall and I would want to buy all Agassi clothes. And they would say, 'Well, we're sold out -- here's some of the others.' And I would say, 'No, I don't want the others, I want Agassi clothes.' And I would walk away very sad."
"Does he know that?" Reyes asked.
"No, I'm too embarrassed to tell him," Verdasco replied.
"OK, I'll tell him," Reyes said. Agassi was amused and touched to hear the story afterward.
When Verdasco clinched the Davis Cup for Spain last month, Agassi visited Reyes at the gym and waxed enthusiastic about the victory. "He had a big grin, and he says, 'Way to go, Fernando,'" Reyes said. "That's just the way it works. Once you connect, you're part of our family."
Verdasco, already sold on the process, will return to Vegas this month for another stint. (No, girlfriend Ivanovic hasn't also signed up.)
Shit. Now I feel bad for calling him "Dick in a Box". Argh.
ESPN rounds up the off-season exhibitions:
I can't wait for the Copa Argentina. Come on, that's the cream of the crop, baby.
The full tourney line-up for the Brisbane International tournament has been announced. And thankfully it's accompanied by a hilarious video. I can't embed it here so click here to go to the site and watch the video.
Loved Nole's attempt to "speak Australian"
Here's the lineup:
Official Brisbane International line-up (men’s)
Djokovic, Novak SRB (no. 3)
Tsonga, Jo-Wilfried FRA (no. 6)
Verdasco, Fernando ESP (no. 16)
Soderling, Robin SWE (no. 17)
Berdych, Tomas CZE (no. 20)
Fish, Mardy USA (no. 24)
Gasquet, Richard FRA (no. 25)
Stepanek, Radek CZE (no. 27)
Mathieu, Paul-Henri FRA (no. 31)
Melzer, Jurgen AUT (no. 34)
Anicic, Mario CRO (no. 36)
Nieminen, Jarkko FIN (no. 37)
Querrey, Sam USA (no. 39)
Llodra, Michael FRA (no. 40)
Benneteau, Julien FRA (no. 43)
Kunitsyn, Igor RUS (no. 47)
Ginepri, Robby USA (no. 51)
Gulbis, Ernests LAT (no. 53)
Gicquel, Marc FRA (no. 54)
Ferrero, Juan Carlos ESP (no. 55)
Dent, Taylor USA (no. 56)
Serra, Florent FRA (no. 59)
Calleri, Agustin ARG (no. 60)
Darcis, Steve BEL (no. 61)
Nishikori, Kei JPN (no. 63)
Baghdatis, Marcos CYP (no. 99) Wildcard
Official Brisbane International line-up (women’s)
Ivanovic, Ana SRB (no. 5)
Azarenka, Victoria BLR (no. 15)
Bartoli, Marion FRA (no. 17)
Hantuchova, Daniela SVK (no. 21)
Li, Na CHN (no. 23)
Mauresmo, Amelie FRA (no. 24)
Bammer, Sybille AUT (no. 26)
Kanepi, Kaia EST (no. 27)
Kirilenko, Maria RUS (no. 29)
Schiavone, Francesca ITA (no. 30)
Sugiyama, Ai JPN (no. 31)
Kleybanova, Alisa RUS (no. 32)
Bondarenko, Alona UKR (no. 33)
Peng, Shuai CHN (no. 40)
Errani, Sara ITA (no. 42)
Benesova, Iveta CZE (no. 43)
Kvitova, Petra CZE (no. 44)
Pironkova, Tsvetana K BUL (no. 45)
Niculescu, Monica ROU (no. 47)
Govortsova, Olga BLR (no. 49)
Stosur, Samantha AUS (no. 52)
Garbin, Tathiana ITA (no. 55)
Arvidsson, Sofia SWE (no. 56)
Is it just me or is the men's line-up way stronger than the women's? That said, it looks to be a nice little warm-up tourney for Baby E. Hopefully she won't get distracted by the fact that her man will be there, too. I guess this will be our first chance to see Cheering!Ana.